Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sunday Spotlight: Book vs. Movie....The DUFF

Last week we talked about movie adaptation of books and we focused on Fifty Shades of Grey.

I want to carry the discussion over but focus on a different book/movie combo this time. I will be dissecting the movie and book so there will be spoilers. You’ve been warned.

Another book to hit the big screen recently is The DUFF. The book is by Kody Keplinger and the movie stars Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell. I actually thought it was really well cast for Bianca and Wesley. Kudos on that.

I must confess that prior to seeing the first preview for the movie, I didn’t know it was a book. It was only after I looked the movie up online that I saw it was based on a book.

So, I did what any enthusiastic reader would do…I went and read the book!

For those interested, my review can be found here.

I actually finished the book the night before seeing the movie in theaters. So the story was extremely fresh in my mind. Now, maybe this was a bad thing because I was looking for specific people, places and events in the movie. If I’d had more distance between when I read the book and saw the movie, I may not have had as many issues with the movie.

So, as that implies, I thought the book was better. Are you surprised by that? No? Me neither. With that said, I do realize that changes were necessary to allow the story to play out on screen.

Based on the previews alone, the book and movie looked totally different…and they were.

Like I said, I get why they had to make changes to the story for the movie to work. A direct adaptation wouldn’t have worked because aside from their time in bed, or their bedrooms, Bianca and Wesley don’t really spend much time together in the book. There are a few scenes, like the cafeteria after school where she threatens him with death by pencil, and when he offers her a ride home when her car won’t start. Both scenes were great and I wish both were in the movie.


The movie sought out to give Bianca and Wesley more of a “friendship”/”coach”/”She’s All That” relationship, thus giving them more screen time together. But I actually liked the relationship they had in the book. I loved the fact that they weren’t friends, they didn’t really have a past friendship and that there was animosity between them…at least on Bianca’s side. I just couldn’t help but feel like the relationship had more room to grow in the book than on screen. And I think that was due to Wesley’s on-again-off-again girlfriend Madison in the movie.

I really disliked the addition of Madison to the movie. She wasn’t in the book, she wasn’t needed. She was basically added to provide the “mean girl” and bullying aspect to the story. And this is what changes the basic story and separates it from the book. Aside from her being the biggest bully, I also felt like it kept Wesley from falling for Bianca, or at least showing that to the audience. I didn’t mind him flirting with her and making out with her so much as after he started to realized he might have feelings for Bianca, he went and got back together with Madison even after he knew that things didn’t work out with Toby.

Speaking of Toby, I HATED the personality changes they had in the movie. Part of what I loved about the book was that Toby was a great guy that liked Bianca for who she was. The movie turned him into another jerk that only saw her as a DUFF and the gatekeeper to her hot bffs. So it pissed me off that they basically reinforced that no one would be interested in Bianca for who she was. Granted, things didn’t work out for Bianca and Toby in the book…but that was because she fell for Wesley (and fought it) and Toby was still hung up on his ex. But the movie took everything good about him and threw it out the window. Instead of him being someone Bianca tried to move on with, he turned into one bad date that was just using her to get to her friends.

Another big difference between the movie and the book is the use of the word DUFF. In the book, the only person to call Bianca that was Wesley. The movie; multiple people. Another difference was the way Bianca reacted to being called a Duff. In both cases, she was hurt and it did open her eyes to social standings at school. BUT, (and this is a big one)…in the book, she didn’t let that change her. Yes, she was hurt by it, but she never set out to change who she was. In the movie, she (in a defiant moment) decided to embrace the Duff status and dress like a slob, in pajamas, since no one noticed her…that lasted for a day until she got into a fight with her friends and went to Wesley for a makeover.

Bianca’s home life was also sacrificed for the film. In the book, Bianca’s mom is pretty much absent. This leads to divorce papers, her dad falling off the wagon, things going to crap and some really crappy moments for Bianca. But all of those moments also led Bianca to Wesley and allowed the two of them to bond and become close. The movie had the divorce but instead of it being her mom that took off it was her dad. Her mom still traveled as a promotional speaker and she was disconnected as a mom, but…there were just missed opportunities here. One of my favorite scenes in the book was actually a pretty awful scene. Bianca’s dad started drinking again after her mom files for divorce. Bianca and Wesley come downstairs, an argument ensues with her dad, her dad hits her and Wesley defends Bianca, hitting her dad and wisking her away to safety (yeah, kind of white knight-ish, but it was sweet). This leads to a lot of talking and some really sweet moments, followed by the realization that they’ve fallen for each other. But this was all missing throughout the movie. The movie basically plays out like any other teen comedy with them finally admitting their feelings at the end, in time for the HEA.

Overall, the movie is cute and did have a very lovely message at the end about how you should love who you are and everyone is a DUFF at some point. But if you really want a good story, one with deeper emotions between the characters, go with the book. You won’t be disappointed. 

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